Oct 31

D is for DIY wall letters


On Monday, I showed you a colorful crafty mess, and left you three clues about what I made. Well, apparently I should have written harder clues, because Brianna guessed it…. DIY wall letters.

As you may know, I love fonts and all things typography. I even have a whole Pinterest board about my typography obsession. So, when I wanted to add some wall letters to my son’s playroom, I couldn’t settle for whatever letters I could find. I wanted to make my own in the fonts of my choice, so an experiment was born.

DIY wall letters: D is for dog

Now, don’t go thinking I am a whiz with a saw. I am not. In fact, I am super-skittish around power tools. I am hoping to face my power-tool fears soon, but this was not the project. These letters are not made of wood. Instead they are made of 1/2 inch thick foam board, and embellished with acrylic paint, washi tape and Mod-Podge (not pictured).

make DIY wall letters out of foam board, paint and washi tape.

Here is how I did it. First I picked out my fonts, I went with Bernard MT Condensed (Microsoft System Font) for the “D”, Wisdom Script AI for “is for” and Tekton Pro Bold (Adobe Font) for “dog”. When picking out my fonts, I made sure that the letters were fairly thick to give my letters enough body. Next I opened up Illustrator and made an art board the same size as my sheet of foam board: 20″x30″. Then I laid out my letters, making them as big as I could while fitting on the art board. I printed out each letter or word separately, and laid the letters out on my foam board as I had them in my illustrator template. By the way, you could use Powerpoint or any of several other programs to lay out your letters.

DIY wall letter patterns laid out on foam board.

I used the letter pattern papers to make a grid on my foam board, and painted the board with red, yellow, blue and green acrylic paint, different colors under each letter. Somehow, I didn’t take a picture of the board before I cut into it, but suffice it to say that it looked like color-blocking gone wrong.

Next, I traced on the letters. I used the printed out templates and embroidery tracing paper. DIY wall letters traced onto foam board.

I used an x-acto knife to cut out the letters. This process wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. The thick foam board took a toll on my x-acto knife blades. I went through about a blade per letter… that is a lot of blades. I learned not to use a sawing motion and to cut through the surface paper of the foam board first, then go over the cut several times until I got all the way through to the back. It was difficult to get the sides at a right angle from the surface of the letters, but the imperfections didn’t really matter in the end.

DIY wall letter cut from foam board.

In order to hide the ugly, messy, foam sides, I covered them with washi tape. I had originally planned to use contrasting colored washi tape, but after trying it out, I decided that matching the color looked better, so that is what I did.

DIY wall letters with washi tape on the sides

Putting the washi tape on the sides was a little bit of a challenge as well. It didn’t stick super-well to the foam, especially in the concave sides inside the letters. The tape that was much wider than the side of the letters worked better because there was more to stick to the back, but I had to add lots of little slits to the tape to get it to lie flat on the back. The stubborn washi tape convinced me that I needed to add a little sealant to my DIY wall letters to ensure that the tape stayed stuck to the sides. So, I whipped out a bottle of Mod-Podge matte and put a thick coat over the entire letters. The Mod-Podge added a nice finish as well as keeping the washi tape in place.

All that was left to do was hang them on the wall.  DIY wall letters on wall in a play room

Hanging them on the wall was super-easy. The letters are quite light, so I used the poster hanging Command Strips. The light weight makes them ideal for YMGP’s playroom. Not only can we hang them with no damage on our rented walls, but if they happen to fall off, they won’t cause any damage to our little boy’s head. Win!

Don’t they look adorable next to my dog silhouette art?

DIY wall letters and DIY wall art on a playroom wall.

In total, my DIY wall letters cost around $15 – $20, while wooden wall letters can cost around $5 a piece before paint and embellishment. Can’t beat the price, and I got to make them exactly how I wanted them. 

Are you a typography lover? Will you be carving your own wall letters?

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  1. Marty@A Stroll Thru Life

    Oh I love this idea, how clever and so perfect for a play area. I would love to have you link up to my Inspire Me party that goes live on Monday at 2:30 PT. http://www.astrollthrulife.net Hope to see you there. Hugs, Marty

    1. Laura

      Thanks Marty! The letters really look amazing on our playroom walls. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. lisa

    Love these! I also love typography and can’t stand most things you buy with type, so this is great that you were able to do it yourself!

    1. Laura

      I know, right! Either you get athletic block letters or weird curly cue letters… they certainly don’t go together. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa.

  3. Angela

    LOVE the washi tape sides, great project, thanks for sharing! http://www.handmadeintheheartland.com/

    1. Laura

      Thanks Angela, the washi tape is both functional and cute.

  4. Shelly- MinettesMaze

    Great idea!! And it adds a punch of color of color to a fun room!! Found this on Time to Sparkle link party!


    1. Laura

      Thanks Shelly! Our poor craft room needed a little color… and these letters were just the thing. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hani Shabbir

    Nice idea!

    1. Laura

      Thanks Hani, they worked out better thank I dreamed they would!

  6. Carli

    Foam letters! So smart! I have been trying to find letters that I liked all over the place and never thought about making my own!!!! Glad I found you on live laugh linky! I will be pinning this for sure! I am sure my readers would just love this post…maybe you could stop by my Family Fridays Link-Up party today and share! Thanks!!!! http://livinthemomlife.com/family-friday-link-up-party-3/

    1. Laura

      Thanks Carli! And thanks for the pin! This project is definitely not for the faint of heart, but they turned out amazing. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Allison @ Dream a Little Bigger

    You are so funny. Love “pimp my playroom!” I’m especially fond of the cursive words. You did a great job!

  8. Larry

    Make these alphabet letters digits or punctuation

  9. Kellli

    I am just wondering where you got the foam board? I can’t seem to find it anywhere!

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    I do trust all of the concepts you have offered to your post.
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